Things to be happy about

These few days, I have been thinking about why I teach. There are many students, all with unique quirks, who don't fit neatly into the architecture of a public school. They rage - at times with quiet stabs at question papers, at times with hysteria along walkways.

Perhaps it's because of their intrinsic nature, perhaps it's because of their upbringing, perhaps it's because of peer influence, perhaps it's because of their hormones... but it is evident that an ordered educational experience does not serve their needs.

That's the problem with any public system, be it the healthcare system or transport system or voting system or educational system. It caters to the masses, the averages, sometimes to the expense of a significant group of individuals.

I just look at so many children and know that my ranting and raving will not save many of them. My patience and persistence is recognised but that's all. It is recognised but not reciprocated. The fact of the matter is that children have to save themselves. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to the stream but you cannot force it to drink. This saying has lost the ring of truth from endless repetition but it remains true nevertheless.

Being a player in this system requires a recognition of one's limits - how to direct resources to serve the most number of students in a limited space and within an allocated period. There are just too many students who need help that only others can offer.

Because today was a particularly tough day with spectacularly misbehaving charges - think water jambu flying towards the fan and a vice-principal who happens to walk past - I feel the need to list down some things that I should be happy about:

1) A colleague who offers support to students with special needs tells me that one student told her that I did not give up on a classmate.

2) Three different sets of parents gave encouraging feedback.

3) A child said thank-you when I placed a consent form on his table. (I think it is the first time I have heard someone expressing gratitude for receiving a X-country consent form.)

It is easy to be engulfed - defeated even - by sheer hopelessness at how powerful and gormless the system is. Credit for any form of success, no matter how trivial, will be usurped while fault, taichied around to the least powerful. Yet, it does us good to remember that there are silvers of hope and sometimes, it is all we have and must make do with.